• Mass shootingsHave We Become Too Paranoid about Mass Shootings?

    By Jaclyn Schildkraut

    Many Americans worry about when – not if – another mass shooting will occur, and a Gallup poll from September found that nearly half of Americans fear being a victim of one of these attacks. Should we be? My research has shown a big discrepancy between the actual threat of mass shootings and the way the public perceives that threat. In other words, people think mass shootings are far more common than they are. Why does this discrepancy exist? And what sort of ramifications does it have?

  • Perspective: ExtremismIf Germany Can’t Stop the Rise of White Nationalism, How Can Canada?

    Between 2017 and 2018, anti-Semitic and xenophobic crimes both rose nearly 20 percent in Germany. In June, following the assassination by a neo-Nazi of Walter Lübcke, a conservative politician who supported Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies, the BfV, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, busted Nordkreuz, an extremist organization which compiled a kill list of 25,000 liberal politicians considered “pro-refugee” while also acquiring weapons, 200 body bags, and quicklime, which prevents the rotting that makes corpses smell. The BfV says that it is now tracking 24,100 known right-wing extremists in the country, of which 12,700 have been classified as violent. “That these developments are happening in Germany, a country known for an unflinching view of its own horrific past, might be considered surprising,” Sadiya Ansari writes. “And if Germany is struggling to contain this [extremists’] threat, what does that mean for countries that haven’t been as vigilant?”

  • School safetyKeeping Students Safe Is a Growth Industry Struggling to Fulfill Its Mission

    By John S. Carlson

    There is a lot of federal, state and local money spent to “harden” school buildings and campuses. It’s a booming business that by 2017 had become an estimated $2.7 billion industry with about $1.5 billion directed toward K-12 school safety. But based on my research on school safety practices, I believe that – in addition to doing more to regulate access to automatic weapons – what’s actually needed is more funding for mental health services in communities and schools to help heed and address warning signs before someone becomes violent.

  • PerspectiveWhy the Guillotine May Be Less Cruel than Execution by Slow Poisoning

    Concerns about the drugs used for executions are being raised again after the federal government announced it will once again execute inmates convicted of capital crimes almost 16 years after the last execution was carried out. while the death penalty is the ultimate punishment meted out by the state, it is not meant to be torture. The guillotine remains a quick method of execution – it takes about half a second for the blade to drop and sever a prisoner’s head from his body. Although the guillotine may be the bloodiest of deaths, it does not cause the prolonged physical torment increasingly delivered by lethal injections. Should the U.S. consider using the guillotine to administer capital punishment?

  • GunsFunding for Research on Gun Injuries to U.S. Children Gets 30 Times Less Funding Per Death Than other causes

    Firearm injuries kill 2,500 American children each year and send another 12,000 to emergency departments. But a new study finds that the nation spends far less on studying what led to those injuries, and what might prevent and treat them, than it spends on other, less-common causes of death in children between the ages of 1 and 18 years.

  • Perspective: ClassificationThe U.S. Government Keeps Too Many Secrets

    That the U.S. government has a problem with classifying information—the process of identifying and protecting documents and discussions that must be kept secret to preserve national security—was established long before President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal returned the subject to the headlines. Classifying information is a key part of how the U.S. government functions and is able to carry out sensitive tasks, Giglio writes, but the problem is that too much national-security information—from the trivial to the politically inconvenient—gets labeled “confidential,” “secret,” or “top secret,” meaning that only those with the corresponding government clearance can access it.

  • Perspective: ClassificationI Helped Classify Calls for Two Presidents. The White House Abuse of the System Is Alarming

    The whistleblower at the heart of the Ukraine controversy said White House officials ordered information about President Trump’s phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky to be removed from the classified server typically used to store such information and placed on a hyper-secure “code word” server. Such special protections are typically reserved for material of the gravest sensitivity: detailed information about covert operations, for example, where exposure can get people killed. Kelly Magsamen, who staffed presidential meetings and phone calls with foreign leaders while she was an NSC staffer during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, writes that “It is difficult to overstate just how abnormal and suspicious treating the call in that manner would be. It strongly suggests White House staff knew of serious wrongdoing by the president and attempted to bury it — a profound abuse of classified systems for political, and possibly criminal, purposes.”

  • GunsExperts Document the Lack of Research on Youth Firearm Injury

    A national research team has just published the largest-ever examination of the state of research on all aspects of youth firearm injury - whether intentional, unintentional, or self-inflicted. The bottom-line conclusion: Far more research, and better research, is needed on children, teens and the prevention and aftermath of firearm injuries and deaths. If translated into action, such new knowledge could help reduce death and injury rates, and other effects.

  • EncryptionU.S., U.K. and Australia to Call on Facebook to Create Backdoor to Encrypted Messages

    The United States, United Kingdom, and Australia will pressure Facebook to create a backdoor into its encrypted messaging apps which would allow governments to access the content of private communications, according to an open letter from top government officials to Mark Zuckerberg. The letter is expected to be released Friday. Law enforcement agencies have long argues that encrypted communications, while protecting privacy, also shields criminals and terrorists, making investigations of crimes and acts of terror much more difficult.

  • Open caseA New Hunt for Jimmy Hoffa

    Jimmy Hoffa, the brilliant but ruthless head of the Teamsters Union, had a taste for corruption and a knack for making powerful enemies, including his frequent business partners, the Mafia, and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. After President Nixon commuted his federal prison sentence, Hoffa planned to retake control of the Teamsters, much to the alarm of the mob. Then, one July day in 1975, Hoffa vanished without a trace from a restaurant parking lot outside of Detroit. Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith – whose stepfather, Charles “Chuckie” O’Brien, had been the FBI’s earliest suspect — has just published a book on the Hoffa mystery. Goldsmith invested years in researching the mystery not only to clear O’Brien’s name (O’Brien was never charged), but also to try and figure out what happened to Hoffa.

  • GunsHandgun Buyers with a Prior DUI Have a Greater Risk for Serious Violence

    Legal purchasers of handguns with a prior DUI conviction have a greater risk of a future arrest for a violent offense — including murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault and for firearm-related violent crimes, a new study has found.

  • PerspectiveHundreds of Cops Are in Extremist Facebook Groups. Why Haven’t Their Departments Done Anything about It?

    In June, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting identified hundreds of police officers across the country who were members of closed racist, Islamophobic, misogynistic or anti-government militia groups on Facebook. “We sought reaction from more than 150 law enforcement departments about their officers’ involvement in these extremist groups,” Will Carless writes in Reveal News, but “only one department – the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, which fired a detective for racist posts – has publicly taken any significant action. Social media activity isn’t just a public-facing display of officers’ beliefs and biases. Officers are susceptible to being radicalized online just like so many civilians, said Christy Lopez, a Georgetown Law professor who oversaw the Department of Justice’s civil rights investigation into the Ferguson Police Department.

  • Perspective: Exaggerations White Supremacy Has Triggered a Terrorism Panic

    Our collective response to terrorism seems to swing on a pendulum between rank complacency and terrified myth-making. In January 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama dismissed the Islamic State as al Qaeda’s “JV team.” But by September of that year, after the group had captured Mosul in Iraq and launched a genocidal campaign of slaughter against the Yazidis, he started bombing it. A similar dynamic can be observed in the case of white supremacy today. This is not “to suggest that the threat of white supremacy is not real or that we should be complacent about it,” Simon Cottee writes. “Of course it is real, and of course we need to indict and seriously punish those who have committed or are plotting to commit terrorist atrocities in the name of white supremacy.” But we should resist the urge to treat white supremacy as “a mythical monster against which to signal our moral virtue”: “White supremacy is not a monolith endangering our children and societies, but we might just make it into one by overinflating it into precisely this.”

  • ExtremismEurope's Extremists Try Recruiting from Police, Army: Europol

    Europol, the European police agency, issued a “Strategic Report” earlier Tuesday, saying that right-wing violence is on the rise in many EU states. The confidential report, cited by German media, says that the extremist groups seek to boost their “combat skills” by recruiting military and police members. The report noted that extremist groups are getting “increasingly popular among younger and better educated demographics.”

  • PerspectiveAnthrax Redux: Did the Feds Nab the Wrong Guy?

    On 18 August 2008—after almost seven years, nearly 10,000 interviews, and millions of dollars spent developing a whole new form of microbial forensics—some of the FBI announced that it had concluded that Army biodefense researcher Bruce Ivins was the person responsible for the fall 2001 anthrax letter attacks. “It’s been 10 years since the deadliest biological terror attack in U.S. history launched a manhunt that ruined one scientist’s reputation and saw a second driven to suicide, yet nagging problems remain,” Noah Shachtman writes. “Problems that add up to an unsettling reality: Despite the FBI’s assurances, it’s not at all certain that the government could have ever convicted Ivins of a crime.”